Alone in space, Nagamine Mikako’s mind drifts, when an alien encounter challenges her beliefs about the self, humanity and her closest relationship. Through a combination of telepathy, hallucination and distant memory, she comes face-to-face with her deepest wishes and darkest fears in the form of a projected image that looks just like her.

An alternative look at the doppelgänger scene in the Japanese OVA, Hoshi no Koe (Voices of a Distant Star).

Theme song: Through the Years and Far Away – Ai Miyoko

Distance, 8.6 light-years.

“…Do you really think it would be the same if you go back?” Mikako’s doppelgänger faced her, tranquil and knowing, hands pointed downward over a light green frock.

“There are things I want to experience.” Summer clouds…cold rain…

“…You wouldn’t understand.”

“You chose this. And look how far you’ve finally come.” How far should I go?

“Don’t you want to see what lies beyond?” The visage was childlike and mature at the same time.

“I only want…to see him again.”

“There are many of you here.”

“What makes him special?”

I never thought about it, but I suppose…we have a connection, Noboru-kun and I.

“He’s ordinary.” Nothing like you. This seemed to belie the silver wedding band on her finger, and a dress that spoke of innocence and domesticity.

It doesn’t matter. “It took him almost nine years to accomplish a fraction of what you did in months.”

“How long can a ‘connection’ like that last?” There was such a presence, of deep knowing and being lost in memories.

With Noboru-kun, I always felt…

“From the ground, I saw only the sky. But now up here, I see only the ground. Earth.”

“You can go much further. It’s only a matter of time.”

“I don’t have time!” Mikako shouted, clenching her fists and pumping them downward in rage. He’s already twenty-four.

“Your notion of time is limited.”

“There are many stars, and galaxies. Universes even.” All waiting to be explored.

…at home. “I don’t care!” My wish is simple.

“Top of your class. Best in studies and athletics.” Stronger…than anyone.

“You don’t belong on the ground.” When you dream, it seems everyone reaches for the stars; but when it comes time, only so few find the way.

“I have nothing here.”

You have everything. “Snacks, bus stops—barely had the rain stopped and your eyes sought the clouds.”

The sky; I’ll be onboard that. “I didn’t know the price of choosing to fly.”

“You told him only after you were chosen.” That has to hint at priorities, Select Member.

“I was a child then.”

Mikako’s doppelgänger shook its head. “You’ve killed so many, so…beautifully.”

“And much more awaits. I want to show you.”

“I only want one thing…can’t you give that to me?” Simple pleasures are pretty.

“You cling to him as a lifeline, a remnant of time gone by. Of who you once were.”

“But a lifetime has passed.” You are an exceptional soldier.

“No!” Mikako shouted. “I wouldn’t be here, if—if you hadn’t attacked us on Mars.”

“Were you there?”

“I read the reports.”

Is everything you read true? “You explored the ruins of our base.”

“You were planning an attack on Earth.”

“Do you know if your first survey unit brought weapons?”

“It’s our solar system!”

“‘The solar system really isn’t just for humans.’ You said that, correct?”

I did. “Before I realized the Tarsians were monsters!”

The doppelgänger turned her head slightly and her eyes seemed to twinkle. “If we had left our technology on Mars for you to find, would you have come after us?”

“I don’t…”

“Humans understand so little without bloodshed.”

“Think about it: You didn’t have the technology to leave your galaxy. Why would we bring it all the way to you, with so few troops, just so you could steal it and chase us?”


“Would we have gone to all that trouble to attack a planet whose inhabitants are already destroying each other?”

“You mean…”

“Yes. An invitation.”

“It was time for you to leave the Milky Way.” And see the wonders of the universe.

Mikako was speechless. “But…you killed us.”

Her doppelgänger was still. “A few lives for the greater good.”

Their eyes met and suddenly Mikako didn’t find her own that friendly anymore. “I said it before: you kill so very well.”

“We’ve had our eye on you for a long time, Mikako.”

“Deadly, but elegant; brutal, but somehow beautiful; single-minded, yet sincere; young, but sure.”

“We wondered, ‘What would it be like to communicate with someone like that?’”

Mikako shivered in disgust. “Your arms wrapped around my Tracer.” Now that I think about it, each time, they reached out as if to grasp something.

Her doppelgänger nodded, and her eyes seemed to sparkle. “You were so fast; I see why you were chosen.” It takes more than reflexes to hold your nerve in battle.

“I am a soldier.”

“The U.N. stands for peace, doesn’t it?”

“My orders are to exterminate on sight.”

“Let me show you something.” The doppelgänger’s features seemed to glow and Mikako felt the area between her eyebrows pulse for a second time.

“He called you Nagamine,” her doppelgänger said tellingly, “until that e-mail.” It’s Mikako!

“How much of this is in your head?”

A special connection, or a simple classmate. “It’s easy to say, ‘I like you,’ or ‘I want to share things with you,’ from far away.”

“Easier to think you’re like ‘lovers separated by space and earth’ than to realize you were different from the start.”

“Talented girl bound for the stars, ordinary boy based on the ground.”

Base temple rising…Long summit.

“Living together everyday, bound by the rules of society and class…Is that what you want?”

Will you meet me halfway, Noboru-kun?

“More importantly, if roles were reversed…would you have waited?”

“Noboru-kun replied to my e-mails,” Mikako said defensively. “He didn’t forget me.”

“Easy to spend five minutes reminiscing because of an unexpected miracle, harder to carry it through reality.”

“He was happy to hear from me!”

“Will those feelings last?”

“If he really wants the same things as you”—Moments in time. Moments to last a lifetime—“then it doesn’t matter how much time passes.”

“And if not, then by the time you return…”

“Have you ever wondered why he didn’t join you in space?”

“Without relativity, there would be no time lag. So, really time isn’t the thief.”

If I could fly faster than the speed of light.

“The speed of light is a cosmic law…It cannot be surpassed. But time is different.”

How can something inanimate…be so cruel?

“Temporally preserved, distally romanticized.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll see him again.” …Child who increases beauty.

“Follow me.”

Straighter than the string of light.

“Step forward.”

“There’s something I want to entrust to you.”

“Why would I want anything of yours.”

“You took the FTL technology. Did you ever wonder…how it works?”

“Time only passes faster on Earth when you turn around. What if by then you had the material to replicate our technology?”

“Exotic matter. Negative mass, specifically.”

“What if those things existed beyond your solar system?”

“You could go anywhere: another galaxy, another universe.”

“Even home.”

That’s what you want, isn’t it?